The thing that’s depressed me most about the response to the recent budget in the UK is the same thing that depresses me at election time (or for that matter when reading most of the commentary in most of the British press).
It’s the fact that there appears to be such a lack of empathy amongst the general population. Most people’s perspective, be they rich or poor, seems to be so narrowly focussed on themselves.
The media plays its part, by endlessly focussing the debate on individuals, asking people how they think this or that policy will effect them. The media isn’t to blame though, it’s just not helping.
Rather than just moaning (I’m good at that), I came up with a crazy idea.
The next time you’re going to vote, forget about yourself. I’ll say that again, just in case you got confused. Forget about yourself. Don’t vote for your own interests.
Think of the two people that you know who probably need a lucky break most right now. Then work out what would really help them, and vote accordingly.
I’m not saying you should imagine your way into the mind of a homeless person sleeping under Waterloo bridge (unless you happen to know one). Just pick a friend, family member, someone you see on the bus each morning, whatever. Someone “normal” like you. You don’t have to be an angel - just try to be honest and pick people who need the help.
Picking two people gives a bit of balance - maybe they’ll need different things, so you might have to compromise a bit.
Perhaps you’ll still end up voting for selfish policies, but at least you’ll be doing it for someone else, and not for yourself. Who knows though, maybe the act of thinking about others will give you a bit more perspective.Don’t forget, you need not worry about yourself whilst doing this - your friends and neighbours will be looking out for you. Just worry about them.
Of course I realise that there’s a danger of this ending up with little cartels of people voting to preserve each other’s interests (sounds awfully familiar, come to think of it). Taken to extremes, it could get parochial and insular, nationalistic even. Ok, fine, don’t take it to extremes - obviously (like, duh…). Maybe pick someone from, oh, the next town or something!
You never know, maybe, just maybe, thinking about other people might turn out to be habit forming.
If you’re one of those shit-for-brains people who doesn’t vote because “they’re all the same, nothing I do will change anything” etc etc, then this counts double for you. If you look hard enough, you will find a policy that someone is proposing which will help someone who you know. If you can’t find one, you’re not looking hard enough. Put aside your own cynicism, and vote for them.